Monday, August 18, 2008

Tourism changes - Timing is critical?

It has been well documented that Newfound NV the owners of Humber Valley Resort (HVR) has changed its strategy and now intends to focus on building high end chalets, and in doing so is ceasing all vacation related functions including the seasonal charter flights (London-Deer Lake) that Newfound NV funded, at a loss. [read more]

As much as individual personal impacts - for example the local people who have lost their jobs - there is serious impact on local tourism. HVR & Newfound NV have invested heavily in developing Western Newfoundland tourism as a destination to the UK market. The work to develop new travel agency relationships takes 18-24 months due to the timescales to print the catalogues etc. All that work and those relationships were about to come together for Winter 2009 and Summer 2010.

But what now?

The province’s Tourism minister Clyde Jackman says western Newfoundland is a unique tourism product, but there are no imminent plans to increase efforts to market the area more than it already is. He added; the west coast is still a major tourism destination and that should not be lost in this disruption. “This part of the province is unique and has attractions that are different from other parts of the province. It is a strong destination within the province and we see it as something that can be built upon and that’s what we have to continue to do.” [read more]

But timing is critical. With so many new travel agencies preparing to market HVR & Western Newfoundland to their clients, the changes, (in particular the issue of air access and the European flights) will have massive medium term impact. Summer 2009 brochures promoting the area have assumed flights are available - the companies will withdraw the holidays if they can't guarantee their clients getting to the location - let alone having a great time!

And they won't wait to Easter 2009 to withdraw them. If you were a travel agent in the UK - why would you sell a winter 2009 holiday to HVR - with all this disruption, closed restaurants etc - when you can sell a well known resort elsewhere? And why would you even stock a summer 2009 brochure when you're not even sure what flights (if any) will be available? You simply wouldn't.

Add to this situation the fact that many HVR chalet owners have already been forced to re-consider whether to visit this year due to the unknown status of Revenue Canada's change in HST for resort chalets. (Some chalet owners have already received unexpected $70,000 HST bills!!). So expect a quiet Winter 2009.

Clearly there are a lot of changes happening. Change is often for the good, and there are likely to be opportunities. However it's all in the timing. Western Newfoundland tourism needs clear and decisive provisional support, and it needs it quickly and well communicated.

Waiting to "see how things transpire" is not what the area needs to hear.

Timing is critical is the time!

We're still ... Are you?

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